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6 things to know about the Inti Raymi festival in Peru

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6 things to know about the Inti Raymi festival in Peru

What is Inti Raymi?

Inti Raymi comes from Quechua and means translated "festival of the sun" (inti "sun", raymi "festival"). Until the Spanish conquest of Tahuantinsuyo, the "Inca Empire", religious ceremonies in honor of the sun god Inti were held annually at the winter solstice, on 6/21 in the southern hemisphere. The king and the nobility were celebrated as descendants of Inti, thanks were given for abundant harvest offerings or sacrifices were made to make the gods more benevolent for the next harvest.


According to legend, Inti had sent Mama Ocllo and Manco Capac to earth to lay the foundation for the future great empire of Inca culture by founding the city of Cusco. And according to the sources, it was Manco Capac who first organized a festival in honor of Inti. Inti, by the way, was considered the favorite son of Pachacamac, the highest god of the Quechua people.


Offerings were regularly made to the sun god and relics from the past testify to the splendor in which Inti was represented on earth. Sun temples, walls and statues decorated with gold, gold as far as the eye could see, sources report. The impressive buildings can still be seen today. But what happened to all that gold is a mystery to researchers. Some are convinced that the Incas sank large quantities of gold in Lake Titicaca when the Spaniards arrived, others explain the disappearance with the expensive ransom for the last Inca ruler Atahualpa, who filled a huge chamber with gold to regain his freedom; unfortunately, however, in vain.


The Inti Raymi, which is most comparable to our New Year, was banned by the Spanish in 1535, along with many other customs, because it was seen as a threat to the establishment of Spanish supremacy.


1. It is the winter solstice

The Inca Empire extent about western South America in the 14th and opening 16th centuries. Inti Raymi is a once a year Inca festival celebrated in the Peruvian city of Cuzco each June. While the winter solstice is June 21 in the southern hemisphere, the Incas supposed that the sun continued in the identical place for three days, so the festival is celebrated on June 24, contemplated one of the shortest days of the year.


2. Celebrates the Sun God Inti

Throughout the Incan Empire time’s, Inti Raymi was the famous festival of the year. According to Inca ritual, the festival was established in 1412 by Pachacutec, the ninth and most important Incan Emperor who also constructed Machu Picchu citadel, to celebrate the Sun God inti which indicated the return of the sun, and the Incan New Year. The time was managed to celebrate the new year and to thank the Inca goddess Pachamama for an brilliant harvest.


3. Sacrifice of llamas

The sacrifice of llamas during Inti Raymi was a highly ritualized process. The chosen llamas were adorned with colorful textiles and ornaments, and their ears were decorated with gold or silver plates. They were then taken to the Sun Temple's, where they were presented to the Inca emperor.


The emperor would then perform a ritual in which he would sprinkle the llama's blood on the ground as an offering to the gods. The llama's body was then prepared for a feast, where the meat was shared among the people.

Today, llama sacrifice is no longer a part of Inti Raymi, as it is considered to be a cruel and unnecessary practice. Instead, the festival is celebrated with traditional dances and music, as well as a reenactment of the Inca Empire's historical ceremonies.


4. Bonfires are lit

Yes, bonfires are lit during Inti Raymi as a part of the traditional celebrations. The bonfires are considered to be symbolic of the sun, and they are lit to honor Inti, the Incan sun god.


The bonfires also play a practical role in the festival, as they provide warmth during the cold winter nights in the Andes. Additionally, the smoke from the bonfires is believed to have purifying properties and is thought to cleanse the air of negative energies.

In general, bonfires are an important part of Inti Raymi and contribute to the festive and spiritual atmosphere of the celebration.


5. Attracts crowds

The center of Cuzco is closed for buses and cabs during the Cusco festivities. Cuzco's Plaza de Armas is fenced, so you'll have to go initial in the morning to evade the multitudes and obtain the excellent views. Better yet, reserve a place on one of the second-floor balconies of a neighboring bar or restaurant before days. The Saqsayhuman ruins, 60 minutes to walk from the city center, remain closed during the festival. The best zone are the exclusive ones in the principal stadium grandstand, but if you're on a reasonable price, head for the surrounding hills. Bring am sandwich and acquire there before 8 a.m. for the excellent views.


6. Inti Raymi in Inca times

In Inca times, up to 50,000 people came to Cusco from all over the empire to take part in the celebrations, which lasted about 15 days.

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